I can admit it, I have an addiction with reality TV. American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, The Apprentice, The Amazing Race (some seasons), Nashville Star, I love reality TV. But my all time favorite, the one I enjoy watching the most is Survivor! Outwit, outplay, outlast! Every season I have watched and adored. It's a show that gets my heart pounding and my adrenaline rushing. As the Survivors compete in challenges, I often stand up and cheer for the team or certain Survivor that I want to win. Then during tribal council, I can feel my heartbeat as it pounds inside my chest. Is this normal? Well, probably not but that's how much I love this show! Thinking back to all the different seasons of Survivor takes me back to all of my own seasons. Just as the show changes locations, scenery, cast members and challenges, so has my life. While Sue on the first season was busy causing trouble amongst tribe members, I was single, in the business world and anxiously awaiting a new season such as marriage and kids. While Rob and Amber were falling in love during Survivor All Star, I was healing emotionally from a miscarriage. And now as I cheer on Terry the retired fighter pilot who is now a commercial airline pilot, my life has new challenges with even better rewards. On the show it seems that each season the challenges get tougher and the rewards get more extravagant. It's my favorite part of the show, the reward challenge. It may be a brain teaser, a true/false game, an obstacle course, a disgusting food challenge or a race of some sort in the water. As the tribes/tribe shows up for the reward challenge, their faces are filled with wonder. For they know if they win the challenge, something of great need will be given in return for winning. The loosing tribe wins nothing. It may be a plate full of cheesburgers and french fires. Maybe a few blankets, pillows and lanterns or maybe a trip on a private yacht for the night where they are able to enjoy a hot shower and an unlimited amount of food. After Jeff Probst, the host, explains the challenge he always asks the same question, "Wanna know what you're playing for?" As Jeff reveals the reward, the survivors instantly regain strength, for they know what they're playing for. Wanna know what you're playing for?
Many of us are in a season that have us wanting something different. You may be working late hours, extra hours, or extra hard in order to save for a vacation. The hard work will payoff. You know that the more you work, the more you can save and the quicker you can take a vacation. You know what you're playing for. I know someone right now that is training for a marathon. He runs constantly. Each day he spends running, sometimes three times a day, he knows his body is getting ready for the difficult race. He knows there is a payoff to training so hard, he knows what he's playing for. In a month, I will be cruising the Western Caribbean. Now for me, I know that this trip will be one where I must pack a bathing suit. I am like most women and the bathing suit thought scares me a little. I really don't desire to look perfect, that's just not possible. But I do want to tighten up some of my flesh! The only way I can do that is by working out. I am not about to diet so I run. At times I don't want to. At times I will be running on my treadmill and want to slow down, quit or walk. Then I remember the cruise and my desire to look and feel more physically fit. If I do so, I know the payoff! I know I will feel better and even look better. While running on that treadmill, I know what I'm playing for!
Our spiritual life is a lot of the same. We have seasons that force us to work hard. Seasons that force us to change. There are some weeks when I feel like as soon as I'm finished with one battle, another one begins. In March of last year, I was facing a lot of challenges. The worst part? I didn't know what I was playing for. It took me falling down on my face several times. It took me surrendering my wants and desires many times. It forced me to examine my relationships and decide which ones were helping me and which ones were not. I often felt like an athlete on the injured list. Every time I got off that bench to play, God would sit me back on it. "Nope, you need to rest. Drink some water. Breathe. Let's make sure you're okay first. I don't want you going back out there and getting yourself hurt again!" You see, I didn't know what I was playing for anymore. Other people, myself, my surroundings, my past, all got in the way and I was useless. Over the past couple of months, I have endured a lot emotionally and spiritually. God has been working on me and changing me in some of the most radical ways. I know I have changed, I know it. Now I know what I'm playing for. It was too hard to see before, too many things clouding the reward. There is freedom in knowing what I'm playing for. It's been revealed to me in so many ways as I have sat on the bench. All the things I have been wanting to do so badly ministry wise, is happening. The coolest part, I didn't ask for it. I said nothing to anyone, and now God is ready to put me back in. It's been a while, I'm a little nervous, a little timid and I know I will be using muscles I haven't used in a while. But this time, for the first time, I know what I'm playing for.
Father, you have us all at different places in our lives. Some of us are struggling right now, some of us aren't but soon will be. I pray that you will show my sisters in Christ that read this, show them what they're playing for. Show them what you have called them to do! Thank you Father for not giving up on me. Thank you for answering my prayers. Thank you for using me again. And as I am used, may I truly serve you and others.